How the power of words can change lives

How the power of words can change livesHave you ever considered just how powerful words can be? In my experience, the power of words can have a much greater impact than you might imagine.

Let me tell you a heartwarming story to emphasize today’s point.

The reunion:

Some time ago I had lunch with a group of old friends.

Now there’s nothing unusual about that, you might say.

Even given the fact that it was the first time we’d all been together in the same place, at the same time since the summer of 1979 was nothing exceptional.

Such reunions happen all the time, don’t they?

Anyway, it was a genuine pleasure to see them all again and swap stories about how our lives had progressed since those far-off days.

However, it’s the story of one of my fellow diners that day that’s worthy of sharing with you now because I think it’s a source of inspiration and it reinforces the importance of just how powerful words can be.

Saeed’s story:

Back in those distant days, we were all working together for the national telecommunications operator in the Middle East.

Three of us had been young, graduate engineers on an upward career trajectory, with the future seemingly ours for the taking. We had it all.

The other member of our group, let’s call him Saeed, had been the handyman and tea boy in the department at that time.

Saeed was then just a young teenager, straight out of school.

He was a bright and willing fellow but he had no academic qualifications and he spoke very little English at the time.

Now Arabic was his mother tongue, of course, but in the international business we were in, a good command of spoken English was essential if you were to have any chance of career success.

Saeed came from a poor village and his perceived failure at school had left him feeling that, at just 16, he’d blown his chances and was destined for a life filled with a series of low-paid, low-skilled jobs.

The power of words:

Fast forward 40+ years and Saeed’s now every bit the poor-boy-made-good story.

Not only is he now a wealthy international businessman with two very successful businesses. He also has a string of qualifications including two doctorate degrees. Now completing one PhD is hard work but two? Wow.

In short, his success is impressive by any measure.

Nevertheless, how did Saeed get from where he was then to where he is now?

The simple answer of course is with determination and a lot of hard work.

You cannot achieve anything without those ingredients.

However, he also needed a reason to believe; a spark to light the fire. And that for me is where the story gets interesting.

The power of wordsThe spark that lit the fire:

Over lunch, Saeed explained that it was a kind and encouraging word, all those years ago, from one of our fellow diners that had made him believe that he could make a success of his life, despite a poor start.

My fellow diner in question, let’s call him Tom, didn’t even remember the conversation.

However back in the day, it seems Tom had explained to Saeed that your future is not defined by your past.

The future, Tom had stressed, is an endless stream of opportunities which you can choose to take, or not, and you can make your life whatever you want it to be.

The life you want can be yours if you work hard for it.

The impact:

The power of these well-timed words of encouragement had an impact on Saeed so profound that they propelled him down the road to a destiny which otherwise he did not think possible. And that is today’s underlying point.

Words can be very powerful, so always choose them wisely.

A few well-timed words can really inspire young people.

And never, ever forget that young people need encouragement much more than they need critics.

The power of wordsEncourage young people:

So next time you’re working with someone in the early stages of life’s journey, remember your words can have the power to encourage them.

Unfortunately, they can also have the potential to discourage them too, if you’re not careful.

What you say, and the tone with which you say it really does matter.

Always offer young people positive words of encouragement, rather than harsh words of criticism.

Never, ever forget how powerful your words can be. The right words, at the right time, really can inspire young people to achieve their full potential.

Leave a legacy:

If you want to leave a legacy behind you; then it would be hard to improve on encouraging a young person to become the best and most successful person he or she could possibly be.

You really do have that power with your words. Use it wisely.

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